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Lena Dunham Opens Up About Her Struggle with Endometriosis

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Back in high school, you may have told your gym teacher you had bad cramps to get out of playing volleyball whether you had your period or not. As any woman knows, though, that monthly pain is nothing to joke about. (How Much Pelvic Pain Is Normal for Menstrual Cramps?) Even Lena Dunham, in a recent post on her Instagram, has opened up about her own excruciating uterine pain and how it's impacting her life—and even messing with her career.

Dunham has endometriosis, and a recent flare-up of pain is keeping her from promoting (and celebrating!) the newest season of Girls, which debuts on February 21 on HBO. In her Insta pic, she photographed what seems to be her own hand (with a cool half-moon mani), holding onto sheets. In the long accompanying caption, she let fans know what's going on: "I am currently going through a rough patch with the illness and my body (along with my amazing doctors) let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it's time to rest." Her full message is here:


Hey Beloved Pals, I just wanted to let you know that, while I am so excited for Girls to return on Feb 21, I won't be out and about doing press for the new season. As many of you know I have endometriosis, a chronic condition that affects approximately 1 in 10 women's reproductive health. I am currently going through a rough patch with the illness and my body (along with my amazing doctors) let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it's time to rest. That's a hard thing to do, but I'm trying, because all I want is to make season 6 of Girls the best one yet. I'm lucky enough to have support and backup from Jenni, Judd and the whole Girls gang. So many women with this disease literally don't have the option of time off and I won't take it for granted. Wishing you all health & happiness, in whatever form suits you. Back soon xxLena

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of a woman's uterus is found elsewhere in her body, either floating around or attaching itself to other internal organs. The body still tries to shed this tissue every month, leading to tremendously painful cramps throughout the abdomen, bowel problems, nausea, and heavy bleeding. Over time, endometriosis can cause fertility problems—some women don't even know they have the disorder until they try to get pregnant and have a difficult time.

For as common as endometriosis is—Dunham was correct in saying that it affects one in ten women—it's difficult to diagnose and often misunderstood. The Girls wunderkind has made her name on depicting some of the realer, grittier, uglier sides of the female experience, and this Instagram is yet another example of that. Endometriosis isn't nearly as fun as hitting a red carpet for your smash TV show, but it's just as much a part of her real life. Kudos to Dunham for once again discussing women's bodies in a simple, honest, utterly relatable way. And feel better soon! (P.S. A recent study found that Birth Control Pills Could Slash Your Risk of Endometrial Cancer.)


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